Sunday, 24 January 2016

Making a house a home

I have been working steadily on the house, although the frenzied nature has possibly slowed with the structure more or less complete.

Now it is time for the details to be added, and for the trims to be added. Finishing touches that I hope will lift the house to a more realistic and lived in look.

What do you think so far?

The sink unit was made by me, and is very basic but serves the purpose for the moment. It still needs taps. I would like to increase my skills in making miniatures, and need to be patient as practice will mean improvement. I am also working on the oven/stove in the foreground, trying to make this look okay. Many details to be added here, including trim around the window.

This is my doll, who is nameless at the moment. I knitted her clothes quickly as she was naked. In the foreground you can see Topsy. When my husband was a little boy he was lucky enough to have a Family Tree House (I would have killed for this) and he loved the little dog Topsy. In a fit of rage his older sister hid Topsy and he disappeared. This is a replacement Topsy given to my husband for his 40th birthday - all the way from France! No more guilt tripping. Out of scale and not at all realistic, but he can live in the house if he likes.

I have been making books for the bookcase to replace the carved wooden ones you see here. Also lacking is art work and lighting and general stuff you need in a living room. A piano is supposed to fit in here somewhere, but at this point I am not sure how I will achieve this.

Bedroom with no bed. Curtains are in the process of drying at the moment. You can see a chip in the floorboard. I used some kind of self adhesive wood strip arrangement, which is pretty good but very splintery. This will be covered by the bed or a rug or something.
I made the fireplace in this room. Again, it's rough but serves a purpose and won't look too bad once it's dressed and I add some trim to the side to cover the gap I can see in this photo.

Bathroom needs a different basin - I think a pedestal would be much better, but I don't have one yet and the items online are a bit wrong - with flowers added or too squat looking. I need to think about this. I also don't have a toilet that I like, so that is also on the shopping list. Curtains to come and a Chrysnbon accessory kit to put together and paint.

The attic study/library which has lots of potential (ie it's empty) but will hold little quirky things that remind me of the grandparents' house. A bowls bag, some writing paper, a barometer, a tin full of pens . . . many bits and pieces yet to be made or sourced.

Tiny attic door I made, and a gaping hole in the floor that I am thinking about. It will be taken care of in good time, but my skills are not such that I can scratch build a surround for it and I need to slow down on the dollhouse spending a bit for a while.

The attic storage space which will hold, among other things, a photo of a woman dressed in black and a large panda. It will all make sense in the end. At the moment, it's the junk room.

Give me a home among the gum trees, with lots of . . . this photo just reminded me of this song we had to sing in primary school.


The front view. I have since added the top of the windows which I had forgotten about until I found them on the table. I need to consider guttering and downpipes and trim the ugly sides. I also realised today I need to paint the eaves. The roof is made of painted corrugated cardboard in the style of a lot of Australian houses with corrugated iron.

The chimney in place, which still needs a chimney pot.

Phew. Much achieved, much still to achieve. What a wonderful time I am having building this house and making it a home.

Thursday, 21 January 2016


These photos show progress from a few days ago.

The verandah rail (porch in the instructions and perhaps in the US) gave me a bit of trouble, as there didn't seem to be anything at all for it to stick to. I have found a couple of times in this project that I am supposed to work against the laws of gravity and reason and glue things together using faith and hope.

The attic is becoming a storage area and office/study. The storage area floor is shown here in a roungh hewn look paper. The stairs come out in the study as you can see above.

I have had such trouble getting paper to stick to the foamcore walls I made for the bathroom and in the attic. I have ended up using superglue to make it stay after trying wallpaper paste, mod podge, tacky glue and PVA on the wall edge where you can see pegs. The pegs have left a couple of divots which I am hoping fix themselves over time. We shall see.

Here you can see the lord of the manor checking progress on 'his' house. How I am going to keep him away from the minis as they are added to the house I have no idea. I think I can feel some perspex coming my way. The word NO usually brings a disdainful look and a perceived sniff of dismissal in my general direction. Lucky he's one of the loves of my life.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Busy busy

Finally, the postman brought the box I had been waiting for and I have been working hard on my Laurel dollhouse. So far have the shell built and primed, windows, shutters and outside doors painted. I have also almost finished making a chimney using bricks from this tutorial and stone foundation using eggshells from this tutorial (about 9 minutes in). All things have moved forward since I took these photos.

I have also added a wall inside cut from foam core, and modified the stairs to include what I think are called risers as the look of the stairs was a little bare for my liking. I noticed the wall looked a bit crooked (!) in this photo so I have since fixed it as best I could.

The shell went together with some sanding and whacking and then was glued. I have got to sand some glue drips from the inside. Next project will be to cut the siding, or as we call it here boards for the exterior walls. Things are coming along quite well I think, but very slowly.

These are the scrapbook papers I have chosen for the wallpaper. We have clockwise from top left bedroom, bathroom (stripes will be vertical), kitchen and lounge/living room. I am second guessing whether the red door fits with the blue/yellow coolness of the papers, but I think it will stay red as I am more likely down the track to change the interior walls than the look of the outside of the house. What do you think, if there is anyone out there reading this?

Upstairs will become a study/library and I am adding another wall to include a storage/odd little room with odd little things in it room.

Sunday, 3 January 2016


Part of this adventure is learning to do new things. Just before Christmas I got very impatient waiting for the Laurel to arrive, and started searching for something a bit more immediate to work on. I went to Gumtree and found a dollhouse quite locally, rang the woman and went for a drive, talked her down $50, squeezed the huge house into my tiny care and came home with this:

It really doesn't look to bad from the outside at this stage, it's very solid and is rendered well with some kind of stucco (a new word for me) on the exterior walls and the roof, but oooh boy it was an interesting prospect inside. The side addition lifts away completely and the roof comes off both sections. The whole front lifts away to reveal the house from the front and the top. Not a design I have seen before, but then I haven't really seen that many dollhouses. Also not in any sort of strict scale, but close enough to 1:12 to work with the furniture I have.

Mirrored tiles, purple carpet in the bathroom, 1:1 lino, wallpaper stuck on and peeling at the same time, grime and dust, a chandelier that resembles a glitzy cocoon out of a Stephen King novel. It all had to go. I commenced demolition.

I pulled the carpet out, the wallpaper off, the tiles from the walls and so forth, and sanded and cleaned the inside. My son and I finally found a use for the palm sander I bought last year and went outside to sand the rooftops. I had a thought I would re-roof with corrugated card but nixed this idea when I couldn't find any neutral card and the coloured stuff I could find took seven coats to cover.

Once demo had been completed, I started to refinish the rooms, learning to wallpaper and put flooring in. I made patterns of the walls with printer paper and cut what I had to size. I also painted the exterior and stairs with Dulux sample pots of Clotted Cream and the roof with acrylic paint in a colour called warm grey. I had some help with the final coat of paint because my eyesight is appalling and I had missed spots.

I painted balsa sticks for skirting boards and some door frames. I would probably not do this again as they don't give a great effect, splinter to easily and are too square for the look I want in my 'real' house but they do fine for this house which will probably be furnished with sturdy wooden furniture and given to my niece when she's old enough. Here are some finished shots of the renovation:

When I fix the front door and attach it, I will share the final exterior shot. You can see in the bottom photo the corrugated cardboard I managed to cover which I have used as wainscot in the bathroom. The furniture is some stuff I have been collecting for ages, including from the partwork magazine I bought about 15 years ago.

All the wallpapers and floors are scrapbook papers. I applied them with Mod Podge matte, but I think this is a pretty expensive way to go and might try the light wallpaper paste powder I bought in the Laurel, but will do a test run first just in case. I guess if it works and it sticks, then it's not expensive. Just like $200 shoes you wear three days a week for a decade. Cheap in the long run!

I covered the floor papers with Mod Podge lustre for an extra shine, and also because it's cheap paper from a book of papers from KMart.

Thursday, 31 December 2015

Patience is a virtue?

I’m not feeling very virtuous. My house has not arrived yet, and I am so ready to start. I have set up a work area upstairs and have got all the supplies I probably need, with more on the way in the post. I have collected:
  • balsa wood strips for siding
  • balsa wood bits and pieces for anything else I come up with
  • icy pole sticks
  • glues of various consistencies
  • egg cartons (luckily we had a barbecue to end the year at school and I asked for them – we don’t eat a lot of eggs) for bricks – I am going to attempt to add a chimney
  • emery boards
  • craft knives
  • scissors
  • paint
  • paintbrushes
  • cardboard containers
  • boxes with plastic sheeting in case I need windows
You see, I took my Brown Owl very seriously and am PREPARED. Now I just need the house!